Storm system brings wind and waves

Published 7:19 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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A strong low pressure system slammed Hatteras Island during the first weekend of November.

Consistent, strong northeast winds and coastal flooding marked the storm action.

Stormy conditions started Saturday evening and increased wind and waves shut down NC 12 between Rodanthe and Oregon Inlet Bridge starting Sunday. The road reopened at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

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Early Saturday evening Nov. 6, Pamlico Sound water was pushed south, emptying the Rodanthe shoreline. Wind speed picked up to 47 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service said the peak high wind gust from Nov. 5 through Nov 8 was measured in Avon and at Oregon Inlet at 64 miles per hour, the REAL slick in Pamlico Sound at 53, Buxton at 51 and Rodanthe at 48 miles per hour.

Late Saturday night, NCDOT published a statement that NC 12 was open and passable and that the just passed high tide did not bring any major issues.

All that changed very quickly.

At 7 a.m. Sunday morning, only a few spots on NC 12 through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge held standing water. Some water pooled at the top of Hatteras village and the pavement was wet at the Buxton motels.

By 9 a.m. NCDOT had closed NC 12 between Rodanthe and the Oregon Inlet Bridge.

Ocean water gushed down Corbina Drive East directly onto NC 12. A dune breach opened in north Rodanthe and another one at the S-turns.

NCDOT workers in front-end loaders tried to erect barricades with the wind blowing and ocean water coursing along the roadway. Some last-minutes motorists still tried to get around the equipment.

In Avon, ocean water was on northern Ocean View Drive at Tern, but at noon the ocean water had not reached NC 12. On Monday high tide, ocean water did reach NC 12 through Ocean View Drive.

In Buxton, ocean water poured across NC 12 from the area of the motels. Hardest hit may be the oceanside houses off Old Lighthouse Road in Buxton. Photos and videos posted online show constantly pounding waves. By 11 a.m., NC 12 roadway in Buxton was clear beyond intersection with Old Lighthouse Road.

In Frisco and Hatteras villages, sound tide came up. In Frisco, the depth in one place was one and a half feet.

In Hatteras village, sound tide came up in the village and also completed covered Eagle Pass Road. The sound tide stayed in place Monday morning and then started draining out of the village Monday afternoon.

NC DOT continued to work on NC 12. The road between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe remained closed on Monday, Nov. 8. Monday morning’s high tide was characterized as “worse than Sunday’s.”

Again, ocean water poured down NC 12 from the two breaches north of Rodanthe.

The Rodanthe Pier sustained damage in the storm and will probably reopen Wednesday, although access to the end of the pier will not be possible. Pier owner and manager Terry Plumblee said it “appears that we lost a piling which in turn tore the supporting girders out under that section of pier. It will require a new piling then rebuild that section.” The pier typically closes for the season starting the weekend after Thanksgiving and some repairs were already scheduled for that time. Repair work due to this storm will be added to that project.

The flood gauge at Duck pier showed major flood stage (6.5 feet MLLW) was exceeded through multiple high tide cycles. The peak value of 6.87 feet (MLLW) was the 4th all time highest value at Duck and the 2nd highest value in a non-tropical event.

NC 12 between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe was closed for three days. The two major breaches from the “no-name” storm will be bypassed when the now-under construction Rodanthe Bridge is completed in February or March, 2022.